I am feeling increasingly encouraged to end my relationship with the garbage and recycling men. (I mean that in the best way.) We are sending far too much down the pipe in the form of bottles, jars, bags, and packaging, even for our almost-homemade existence. It is the vinegar bottles. The beer bottles. The bulk bags from the coop. The occasional box of crackers. While we don't buy shampoo or conditioner anymore (we use our LuSa soap and an apple cider vinegar rinse) and we make our own toothpaste and deodorant, we still generate unnecessary waste.
So this weekend I put two new projects into motion to reduce our footprint: cloth bulk bags and homemade vinegar. (Next week we'll revisit our homebrewing past and put an end to the majority of what remains in our recycling bin.)
Cloth bulk bags have been on my to-do list for ages. I often bike to the coop but not for my big weekly shopping. For that trip I haul our glass pantry jars to the coop to refill so I drive. Really it's a ridiculous trade off. One green choice for another? I'd rather bike and use recyclable containers that I have the strength to haul home in the bike trailer.
I sewed the bag above out of a pair of thin cotton thrifted capris and a scrap of Amy Butler fabric. I attached a hair binder towards the top as a closure and a grosgrain ribbon towards the bottom for writing bulk bin numbers. The ribbon is easy to find (even on a half-full bag) and erases well so the next bulk number can be added when you return to the coop for a new item.
I've only made the one so far, but I'm prioritizing a few more (large and small) before next week's shopping trip.
The second quick, simple project was vinegar. (The recipes come from Wild Fermentation,
by Sandor Katz – a book that you should go and get your hands on right
now if you don't already have a copy. Amazing stuff in there.) I have two batches in the works: Pineapple and apple. All told I think I spent more time chopping the pineapple for the kids to eat than I did prepping the vinegar.
Pineapple vinegar was a good excuse to indulge my kids in a pineapple (a source of weekly exotic produce begging). It is simply a fermented blend of fruit peels, water, and fresh local raw honey (thanks, Heather!). I'll report back in about a month with how it tastes.